2020: The Ultimate Test of Our Operating Model.
2020 did not go as planned. Not even close. But somehow, our business remained incredibly healthy, even exceeding the projections we made prior to the pandemic. Why? Well, we had a plan.
How it works.
It’s not so much a system as it is an architecture upon which to build successful experiences and outcomes.
The agility inherent in our operating model has enabled us to deliver client value in the face of the drastic setbacks we’ve all encountered, industry-wide. Here are a few examples of our dexterity at work:
While timing is important, it means nothing without the processes to deliver.
Our proactivity in cost reduction and ability to quickly implement enabled us to return more than $1.3M in contracted cost for our clients in the Entertainment and Tourism vertical (98% of planned cost, only sacrificing expenses associated with completed asset production).
Furthermore, the cost mitigation activity in late February prevented contractual commitment on another ~$1M in planned cost. And our transparent partner approach has allowed us to retain and shift much of the anticipated added value benefits associated with those dollars for a time when investment is more appropriate. Say, when we can all go back to the ballgame.
We constantly monitor consumer behavior in the home improvement category for our clients in this space. This includes trends in online behavior (search, social, web and ecommerce), offline behavior (foot traffic), and conversion (ecommerce and brick and mortar point of sale).
Our own cabin fever led to a hunch that surfaced copious early indicators of a now well-proven trend: Interest in DIY home improvement has spiked nationwide to historic levels.
We engaged solutions from Pinterest and Google to dive deeper into consumer trends in the category. We looked to PlaceIQ to understand foot traffic trends in the vertical and we used Amazon for SKU-level category ecommerce activity.
With this information in hand, we recast our market activity plan to optimize the campaign and reflect the nuances of the consumer journey, allowing minute-to-minute adjustments at the state, market, channel and product levels.
While the agility to pivot for refined targeting is critical to success when revenue opportunity or consumer behavior changes swiftly, being nimble enough to maximize yield when demand spikes is equally important.
Higher education has felt the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in myriad ways: giant campuses are shuttered, dorm rooms mothballed, and 500-person lectures conducted via Zoom are all placing stress on the collegiate value proposition.
For our client, the American College of Education, virtual education is core to their business, as is delivering a positive impact to the community (B corp). Their value proposition has never been more relevant than it is today.
The advertising strategy we deployed at the start of our new partnership with ACE helped drive 20% growth in core enrollment metrics through the first two months of the campaign. That growth rate pitched upward in the early period of the pandemic as more and more students began to explore educational opportunities while socially distancing.
As the dust settled on one of ACE’s key enrollment periods, the combined efforts of our marketing teams delivered a 55% YoY increase in enrollments, a mark that exceeded aggressive growth goals by 33%.
All this to say...
At a time when board trust in CMOs and client trust in agencies is low, yet the need for delivered value is high, agile processes and transparent partnerships are extraordinarily important.
Maybe now, more than ever.